Sunday, February 18, 2007

"Smiley Boy"

I have a baby boy, "Smiley Boy." He's a miracle baby.

When my wife was at 24 weeks, she began showing signs of a condition called "preeclampsia." This is a condition that is only found in pregnant women and is only "curable" by delivering the baby. The early stages aren't too bad, but as it progresses, it becomes increasingly more dangerous for both the mother and the child. So, on Feb. 14, my wife was admitted to the hospital. (Quite a Valentine's Day, Huh?) We were very fortunate that we had a doctor that was willing to wait and see how long we could continue the pregnancy before it was too dangerous for them. At that stage, every day counted. The Hospital the she was in was an hour away from where we lived and two hours from where I worked. I took a bunch of time off so that I could be there as much as I could, but there is only so much that a husband can do in this kind of situation. After the first couple of days, I went back to work and came back for the weekends. Our church family was amazing. My Pastor's wife and several others came and stayed with her for the time when her mother couldn't be there. People I worked with (Teen Challenge) were amazing too. I got so much support from everyone. They each came from different churches and took the prayer requests back to their church families. Parents of my students (ranging from all over the U.S.) also took the prayer requests home. Before a week was out, we had people praying for us in nearly a dozen states in probably as many denominations.

So I worked during the day and would call my wife, "Crickey", each night to see how she was and to pray with her. On the weekends, I would go to be with her and keep her company. Hold her hand during tests and sit with her while she slept. One of the problems with preeclampsia is that the body doesn't process water correctly. Crickey had gained more than 50 pounds in water alone in a period of about 3 weeks. Towards the end of it, she had so much water retention that she had a lot of difficulty breathing. Between that and the nearly hourly test that they had to run to monitor her and the baby, sleep was a rare and fleeting thing. Throughout the whole thing Crickey was amazing. Every nurse that came in heard how God was faithful and how we were so honored that God would trust us to represent Him in an experience like this. We honestly never worried about the outcome of it all. We completely trusted God in whatever He chose to do. A lot of people say that they don't think that they could have done it, but what it really comes down to is this: Neither could we. We didn't have the strength to get through this until we were in it and that only by the grace of God.

Well, two weeks past and the doctor finally said that we couldn't wait any more. They were scheduling a C-Section for the next day. I had mixed feelings on this.. On the one hand I knew that every day that we waited was a better chance for our son, but on the other hand, I wanted my wife to be free of this.

"Smiley Boy" was born on Feb. 28. 1 lb. 7 oz. 12 1/2 inches long. At 26 weeks into the pregnancy.

I went in with Crickey for the surgery. I sat at the head of the table holding her hand and talking with her as they administered the epidural. there was a big blue cloth hung in front of us, just under Crickey's chin, that separated us from the doctor's. When they made the incision, they had to remove 2 liters of water before they could even proceed. The doctors said that the procedure was going very well; they were able to lift the baby out head first without complication. They wrapped him up and showed him to us. His little face was the size of a silver dollar.

There are so many things that can go wrong with a "Preemie" baby. Heart problems, brain defects, lung damage, eye dysfunctions, undeveloped or misplaced organs. . . . "Smiley Boy" only had to be put on a respirator and kept in an incubator. No other problems.

Even so, he was in the hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 3 months.

He was finally able to come home without the need for oxygen stuff at home. However, because he had a ventilator for so long, he had to be fed through a tube that was surgically placed so that the food was given directly to his stomach. We were told that, in time, he would learn to eat normally, but because he didn't start that way, we would have to train him to let his instincts kick in and take food by mouth.

It has been almost a year now, and I was sitting in here watching him finish another bottle of formula and play in his "pack and play." This child smiles more than any baby I've ever seen.